Car Wash Soap Alternative: How to Wash Your Car Without Car Shampoo?

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Last Updated on 1 month by Ollie Barker

Car Wash Soap Alternative:

I love my car and keeping it clean is a top priority! For years, I’ve been relying on car shampoo to help me wash it. But we all have to admit that we need a good alternative when we are out of it or simply we want to give our cars a break. So, what are car wash soap alternatives and how to use them?

Amazingly, you can find a wide range of options as car soap around your house or just at the convenience store nearby.

Why Use a Car Wash Soap Alternative?

While car washes are great to clean the car, it is quite disruptive to the environment, on your car’s finish, and of course, it costs some money. Most of us prefer to wash our cars at home rather than paying someone else to do that for you. And you can! All you need is some time, a bucket, and a sponge.

Nowadays, many people are more mindful of the environment. They understand the harmful effects of car washing on our environment and on our health. It can cause chemicals to enter the air and water, not to mention the high levels of soaps, waxes, and engine parts that get washed along with it.

So, instead of using harsh chemicals that can harm your car, why not try using a DIY car wash soap alternative? With these great solutions, you will never have to pay for a spotless vehicle again.

Cleaning your car with conventional soaps will remove dirt and grime but it can also strip away the wax and sealants that protect your car. Remember that not all car wash soaps are made the same. You need to choose a soap that is gentle enough to avoid causing scratches, swirls, and water spots on your paint.

The best way to wash the car at home without shampoo is to use something mild and simple like dish soap, laundry detergent or even shampoos for babies or pets will do the trick.

Best Car Wash Soap Alternatives

#1 Most Common: Dish Soap

This alternative is very simple: dish soap is an effective cleaning product that cleans and degreases, leaving your car clean and shiny. It does not contain any waxes, so it’s great for making your car shine without worrying about scratches.

That’s why dish soap is the first alternative option for many car owners. It does a great job at fighting greases and it’s always there in your kitchen.

Tip: Be careful when using dish soap as it may strip the wax of the paint if left on too long. Rinse well with clean water to avoid this problem.

#2 Laundry Detergent

Another great alternative is laundry detergent. It is a reliable product for an affordable price. Look for one that has “no fade” in the label to avoid damaging your car’s paint.

Mix the detergent with warm water in a wash bucket or any other plastic container before applying it to your vehicle.  Also, you can add some shampoo with the detergent to give your car an even deeper clean.

This is a good alternative but you shouldn’t use it too often as it contains strong chemicals that are not friendly to your car.

#3 Shampoo

Using shampoo is not for everyone, but some people swear by it. Some people dilute it with water since it is very potent.  Shampoos are great at giving you a deeper clean but they’re also excellent for removing oxidation stains on your car’s finish.

Choose a gentle baby shampoo or a milder shampoo if you have any concerns.  Make sure to rinse it completely after you are done washing your car.  As they’re very gentle, they don’t fight dirt very well.

#4 Hand Soap

Where dish soap is for cleaning greasy dirt, hand soap is an oil-cutting agent. This means it can cut through the film of oil on your car’s surface so you don’t have to use as much of an abrasive product.

The good thing about hand soap is that it gives your vehicle a great scent, but it can’t remove dirt as effectively as dish soap.

#5 Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a natural product that has a lot of cleaning benefits. You can use a diluted mix of water and apple cider vinegar to give your car a great shine without the side effects of harsh chemicals.  It is light and it just needs water to work, so ask yourself why not?  This is a great alternative especially if you have sensitive skin or your car’s paint is brand new.

What You Should Avoid Using

There are many other cleaning products around the house that you should NOT use at all. Here are some of them:

# Harsh Cleaning Products

Regular household cleaners may have a very strong smell, but it can damage your car’s finish. Avoid using them because they can strip the wax and other protective layers off of your paint.

# Household Cleaners

Some household cleaners like bleach or all-purpose cleaners can damage your car’s paint or strip the wax off of the car. Also, they are harmful to your health.

Tips When Using Car Wash Soap Alternatives

1. Wash your car under the shade

Cleaning products dry very quickly so if you wash your car under direct sunlight, they will leave residues on the car surface.

2. Pay attention when washing your car

Don’t let your hands touch the paint. Instead, use a sponge or wash mitt to apply the soapy solution to the car’s surface and rinse it off after wiping it with a clean cloth or towel.

3. Dry your car gently

If you are using a mixture, it’s very important for you to use a cloth or towel that doesn’t leave any residue on the car. It is recommended that you just wipe the car off with the applicator and then wipe dry with a clean towel and hang it to dry.

4. Apply wax or sealant

After you have cleaned your car, apply a special product to protect it from getting dirty next time. You can use wax or sealant for this purpose.


The best car wash soap option is your hand or dish detergent. It is extremely cheap and it does an amazing job at cleaning your car without damaging the surface of it. Dishes are great, but they can damage the paint if you aren’t careful.  Use only natural cleaning products on your car to avoid damaging it.

Also, make sure you use wax or sealant after washing with dish detergent to protect the paint from getting dirty again.